Saturday, April 03, 1999

Taft wants tougher seat belt law

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft is proposing that Ohio's seat belt law be toughened to allow law enforcement officers to stop and ticket motorists who are not wearing seat belts. Mr. Taft made the proposal Friday as he addressed the 132nd graduation ceremonies at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus.

        “Enabling law enforcement officers to cite motorists for failing to wear seat belts would serve as a valuable tool in our fight to prevent loss of life and serious injury on Ohio's highways,” Mr. Taft said.

        Ohio's safety belt law is the state's only moving violation law that does not allow an officer to stop and ticket a motorist for the offense, the governor's office said. Police may cite a motorist for failing to use a seat belt only if he was stopped for another offense, such as running a traffic light.

        Rep. Sam Bateman, R-Milford, the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee chairman, had not seen the proposal Friday.

        But Mr. Bateman said it could run into trouble if it is similar to one proposed last year. “Last year, it didn't pass because the votes weren't there,” he said. American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio opposed the 1998 proposal because of concerns about giving police another reason to stop drivers.


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